Sports & Outdoors

Men’s soccer sees winning streak snapped

A fact unknown to many, it turns out that women’s soccer at Puget Sound is not the only dominant team on the soccer field. Men’s soccer (7-2-1, 4-1 NWC) has been making quite a stir this season. The team is directed by decorated head coach Reece Olney, who is in is his 19th year of coaching at Puget Sound and has led the team to three Northwest Conference titles (in 1999, 2002 and 2006).
It has been several years since Puget Sound men’s soccer achieved a national ranking in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s top 25 poll, last earning top 10 honors in 2007. Two weeks ago, however, the Loggers cracked the poll again in a testament to their success on the field this season. The team’s five straight victories pushed them to a ranking of 24 in the NSCAA poll. The next week, the Loggers moved up to 21st after clinching two more consecutive victories over Willamette and Linfield.
Coming into the game Saturday, Sept. 29 versus Whitman (4-5-2, 2-2-1), the Loggers had maintained a seven-game winning streak, which included victories over both conference and non-conference opponents such as UC Santa Cruz and Colorado College; during this winning streak, the team had only given up a single goal, which occurred in their conference-opening game versus Pacific.
Whitman, however, turned out to be a tough opponent, both outshooting and outscoring the Loggers.  In the first half, Missionary player Logan Grime scored a goal at the 36th minute of the game to put the Missionaries on the board first. A goal from junior Carson Swope (Portland, Ore.) brought the Loggers neck-and-neck with the Missionaries at one goal apiece in the 76th minute of the game. Senior and captain Chris McDonald (Newton, Mass.), who has been awarded Second Team All-NWC goalkeeper for the past two seasons, fought hard in the goal box and saved five goals in the second half to keep his team in the game. The Missionaries took charge and scored the game-winning goal in overtime to break the Loggers’ seven-game winning streak, with a final score of 2-1 in Whitman’s favor.
Still reeling from the upset, the Loggers faced a tough game on Sunday, Sept. 30 versus the 11th-ranked Whitworth (8-0-2, 5-0-1) team. Both teams were heavily favored as two of the best defensive teams in the conference, and their intense showdown on Sunday reflected this fact. Although the Pirates outshot the Loggers 12 to 7, in the end the defense on either side proved too tough to crack for both teams and the game ended in a 0-0 tie after two overtime periods.
McDonald again came through for Puget Sound with three saves to complete his seventh shutout this season; he is now only three shutouts away from tying the school record.
McDonald said, “Although we were expecting more than a tie going into the game, we were happy with the effort across the board. The team worked hard for the full 110 minutes, and that is what kept us in the game. I felt we deserved more than just a point from that game, but the level we played at is promising for us going forward.
“We are also happy about the fact that everyone who played on Sunday played at a high level and raised the quality of the game. From top to bottom, whenever someone came on, they made an impact and lifted our level. That’s hard to do, so we can be extremely happy for that. We are looking forward to a strong week of training to get us ready for Friday, and look forward to getting three points at PLU, which is always a tough task.”
This weekend, although temporarily diminishing the winning ways of men’s soccer, hopefully will not prove to dampen the team’s bright prospects for the remaining nine matches of this season, eight of which are against NWC opponents. The team will next be hosted by Pacific Lutheran University on Friday, Oct. 5 at 5 p.m.